Boyle Heights residents demand liquor store regulation

Boyle Heights

Grant Slater/KPCC

The shelves are half-empty at Ray and Roy's Market, located at 4th and Camulos streets in Boyle Heights. Liquor and snacks are the market staples.

Many people in the largely Latino Boyle Heights contend that too many alcohol outlets have operated for years in their neighborhood. Activists there are launching a campaign to limit new liquor store licenses.

In a survey of U.S. Census data, newspaper reporters for the local Boyle Heights Beat determined that the area contains one store selling alcohol for every thousand people.

That’s nearly twice the concentration as Santa Monica, Compton or West Covina — areas with about the same population as Boyle Heights.

The prospect of even more liquor licenses in their neighborhood has energized a coalition of activists, homeowners and local officials to try and reduce the volume of alcohol sales.

They say that trade encourages crime and addiction, as well as threatening public safety.

Along with a letter-writing campaign, they want to establish new guidelines for alcohol retailers and bars. This includes surveillance cameras in liquor stores, limited shelf space for alcohol in other shops and 600-foot barriers between those outlets and schools, parks and libraries.

The coalition plans to host a discussion Thursday at 6 p.m. to discuss the effects of alcohol sales and consumption in Boyle Heights.

Public health officials and police expect to attend the meeting at Resurrection Catholic Church on Opal Street in East L.A.

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